Economics B.A.

The Department of Economics is highly ranked among economics programs in the U.S. When pursuing a major in Economics you work with faculty whose expertise spans economic analysis and policy.

The Economics major requires eight core courses that focus on mathematical modeling, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, economic statistics, and econometrics. You also take a minimum of four elective courses, allowing you to specialize in the areas most relevant to your career interests.

Through the Economics electives you are able to learn about an array of issues such as: the supply and control of money, the roles government entities play in the economy, the functioning of labor markets, the trade relations between countries, the obstacles to sustained growth in less developed nations, and the functioning of financial asset markets.

You also gain the quantitative tools needed to measure economic indicators, make sense of big data, and analyze strategic interactions arising in economics, business, and international relations.  Simply put, you gain the wherewithal needed to excel in today’s knowledge-based economy.

The Department of Economics offers an undergraduate minor in economics for students majoring in other subjects.

Coursework

Getting started

Your starting points with the Economics major are mathematical modeling and introductory economic theory courses:

  • MATH-M 118 Finite Mathematics
  • MATH-M 211 Calculus I or MATH-M 119 Brief Survey of Calculus
  • ECON-E 201 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECON-E 202 Introduction to Macroeconomics

Those four courses provide you with the background knowledge needed for the other four advanced foundational courses: ECON-E 370 Statistical Analysis for Business and Economics; ECON-E 321 Intermediate Microeconomics; ECON-E 322 Intermediate Macroeconomics; ECON-E 371 Introduction to Applied Econometrics or ECON-E 471 Econometric Theory and Practice I.

Due to the quantitative nature of upper-level economics courses, it is recommended that you take MATH-M 211 rather than MATH-M 119, as it gives you a deeper foundation on which to build your mathematical skills.  It also allows you to pursue mathematics as a minor or major and to prepare for the additional mathematics prerequisites for the ECON-E 471 econometrics course. This is especially recommended if you are considering graduate work in economics or other quantitative, analytical fields.

ECON-E 321 is meant to be, in part, the gateway to the Economics major. If you need additional preparation for the rigors of ECON-E 321, you can take ECON-E 221 Models and Methods of Economic Analysis. ECON-E 221 will help you bridge the gap between the concepts learned in the introductory courses and the complex economic models studied in ECON-E 321.

Tracks and concentrations

Students may elect to complete up to two of the concentrations listed below, which they must declare through an Economics academic advisor. Completing an area of concentration becomes part of the official transcript and allows students to develop additional expertise in specific areas of Economics. Example courses are listed below. Full course lists for each concentration can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

  • Financial and Monetary Economics: International Monetary Economics; Economic Development; Financial Economics
  • International and Development Economics: International Trade; International Monetary Economics; Economic Development
  • Economics of the Public Sector and Labor Markets: Economics of Labor Market; Law and Economics; Public Finance
  • Strategic Interaction: Game Theory; Economics of Industry; Seminar in Experimental Economics
  • Advanced Computation/Econometric Tools: Undergraduate Seminar in Compuational Methods in Econometrics; Econometric Theory and Pracitce I and II

Upper level coursework

The Economics major allows you to personalize the upper level curriculum with specialization in related courses. You should consult with an academic advisor and faculty to discuss the best courses to suit your interests.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

There are over 90 areas of study in the College of Arts and Sciences, any of which you could potentially add as an additional major, minor, or certificate.

Students pursuing the Economics B.A. degree often complement their major with coursework in Political Science, Mathematics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Geography, Sociology, English, History, International Studies, natural sciences, and area studies departments.

Economics majors also have the opportunity to pursue minors offered by programs such as the Kelley School of Business, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, and the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. You should be aware that pursuing a minor from a program outside the College of Arts and Sciences can impact your timeline for graduation. Discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing an Economics B.A. degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

By connecting with faculty, you can find research, teaching, and independent study opportunities.

As your interests develop, you might want to take an independent research course. Talk with your academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.

High-achieving students can supplement concentration areas with independent research (ECON-X 398) and honors thesis research (ECON-E 499). With both research options, you come up with a central inquiry, or set of inquiries, and independently devise a research plan under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

These projects provide you with excellent writing samples to include with your graduate school applications and/or professional portfolio. Your supervisor will help guide your inquiry, review drafts of your final paper, and assess the final paper itself.

You can gain teaching, tutoring, and mentoring experience as an Undergraduate Intern (UGI) for the Department of Economics and/or a peer mentor on the IU MoneySmarts Team.

In the Department of Economics, UGIs perform a variety of teaching-related functions for ECON-E 201, ECON-E 202, ECON-E 321, and ECON-E 370 classes. The typical UGI assignment involves a combination of grading and student contact for 6 hours per week. This is a paid position. As a UGI you have the opportunity to receive 1 credit hour through ECON-X 373 Internship in Economics.

Experience as a UGI is highly valued in the entry-level job market. It also allows you to gain valuable teaching experience prior to beginning a graduate program in which you might be required to teach undergraduate courses.

The nationally recognized IU MoneySmarts Team is comprised of IU students with a passion for financial literacy. Acting as a peer mentor is a great opportunity to gain consulting and advising experience. As a financial guru in-the-making, you can help your peers solve the money issues they face as college students.

Honors

Students pursuing a B.A. with a major in Economics have two options for receiving an honors diploma and should choose either the requirements for Option A or Option B below.

  • Option A:
    1. Economics GPA of 3.700 or higher and a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or higher upon graduation;
    2. E321 or S321, E322 or S322, and E370 or S370;
    3. At least 6 credits in economics courses numbered E390 through E490.
    4. Completion of 6 credits of E499 Honors Thesis with a grade of B or higher. 

Option B:

  1. Economics GPA of 3.700 or higher and a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or higher upon graduation;
  2. S321, S322, and S370;
  3. E471 and E472, plus an additional course numbered E390 through E490, for a total of at least 9 credit hours at this level.

Note: Honors thesis research topics must be approved by an Economics faculty mentor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The thesis topic should be approved prior to the beginning of the semester in which ECON-E 499 enrollment occurs.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

As an Economics major, you are eligible for a variety of scholarships and awards. Some of the options are available to other majors too. These options include:

You also have the chance to be considered for awards granted to high-achieving junior and senior economics majors by the Department of Economics. These awards include monetary prizes.

  • The James E. Moffat Scholarship Recognition Award recognizes outstanding performance by juniors or seniors in the economics department.
  • The Department of Economics Distinguished Scholar Award is funded by the department to honor economics majors who have consistently exhibited the very highest level of excellence in economics courses, as well as outstanding overall scholarship across the College curriculum.
  • The Carroll Christenson Award goes to an outstanding junior or senior Economics major who has demonstrated an ability to master the technical content of modern economics.
  • The Mr. and Mrs. Harold E. Strow Award is given to an outstanding student with a major or minor in Economics.
  • The James E. Moffat Outstanding Senior Award is given to recognize the department's most outstanding senior who has exhibited overall academic excellence and, in particular, scholarship in Economics.
  • The Carrington Scholarship recognizes and rewards academically excellent undergraduate students and encourages other students to pursue and succeed in the rigorous and intellectually-challenging academic study of economics. These scholarships are given to majors who are US citizens or permanent residents, are entering their senior year, and whose record of academic excellence is among the best in the department.

Additional information and resources concerning outside funding and grant opportunities are listed on the American Economic Association's website and the Omicron Delta Epsilon website.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. You can begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as your freshman year.

Previous Economics students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

  • Bank of China
  • Delta Air Lines
  • GE Energy
  • KPMG Korea
  • Net Worth Management Group
  • PNC Bank
  • Robert Bosch
  • US Department of State

Learn more about internships, and the possibility of earning credit for internships, at the Walter Center for Career Achievement. You have access to many resources there for finding both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-X 373.

Another resource you can use is the Department of Economics at Indiana University Bloomington LinkedIn group, where the academic advisors and career coach will post relevant opportunities.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.

Here is a partial list of language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

If English is not your native language, you can provide appropriate official documentation that you have proficiency via formal education in a language other than English. More information about this option is included on the Application for Establishment of Foreign Language Proficiency for Non-Native Speakers of English.

Overseas study

In an increasingly globalized world, study abroad is an important part of your undergraduate education. Many programs offer courses that can count toward your major and degree requirements, allowing you to stay on your desired timeline for graduation. Here are just some of the many options from which you can choose:

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with your academic advisor and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Involvement with student groups gives you opportunities to further develop your leadership, communication, organizational, and teamwork skills.

The Economics Club at Indiana University provides a community for all students interested in economics and related fields. They hold regular meetings to discuss topics in economics and organize special events to promote interest in and understanding of economic issues. Members participate in networking trips and community engagement.

Women in Economics was founded to provide a space for female economics majors to connect. They hold meetings every other week and host more formal events and panels throughout the semester.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement that will allow you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

The following are just a few of the professional organizations with interests in economics.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in Economics provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Application of Economic Models: apply microeconomic and macroeconomic theory and data to analyze contemporary economic problems and policies
  • Math-Modeling Skills: understand basic math-modeling techniques used in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory
  • Organization and Description of Data: organize economic data in a manner that allows you to generate and interpret its descriptive statistics
  • Data Analysis and Statistical Inference: understand the principles of statistical inference, including hypothesis testing and ordinary least-squares regression modeling, and be capable of communicating that to a variety of audiences
  • Econometric Software Expertise: possess expertise in the application of econometric analysis software to present and analyze data
  • Communication and leadership: inform and interact, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Together with your other coursework, your degree provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, you should pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can improve in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the career coach for the Social and Historical Sciences Division.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take career courses to help you maximize your time at IU. Economics majors should consider taking these two career development courses:

  • Sometime in your second or third year, you should take ECON-E 298: Careers in Economics. 

The job market

Economics majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Economics majors is expected to grow in the next few years, especially for those with skills in research and analysis.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: finance; management, scientific, and consulting services; banking; federal and state government; insurance; military or civil service; logistics; non-governmental organizations; business; non-profits; education; research and policy think tanks.

Economics majors can become actuaries, financial analysts, economists, personal bankers, statisticians, sales managers, survey researchers, urban planners, real estate brokers, financial consultants, budget analysts, educators, project managers, or data analysts, among many other options.

Talk with Economics faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the undergraduate program in economics.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these: 

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

An Economics B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as economics, finance, information systems, public affairs, politics, international studies, and business.

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Economics, you should be aware that a solid background in mathematics is critical for success in any reputable Economics Ph.D. program, as well as most terminal Master's programs.

Listed below are math courses recommended by IU economics professors who are teaching graduate courses in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics. Check with the academic advisor for the Department of Mathematics to find out when these courses, or honors sections of these courses, are offered.

Given the number of Mathematics credits contained in this list, it makes sense to consider a double major in Economics and Mathematics, the economics and mathematics interdepartmental major, or a major in economics and a minor in mathematics. You should discuss these options with your academic advisor.

Minimum preparation:

  • Calculus: MATH-M 211, M 212 (or M 213), and M 311
  • Linear Algebra
  • Probability and Statistics

Good preparation. All of the above, plus:

  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Transformations
  • Real Analysis

Excellent preparation. All of the above, plus:

  • Probability Theory

Other courses to consider if time permits:

  • Elementary Computational Methods
  • Elementary Complex Variables
  • Metric Space Topology
  • Introduction to Mathematical Statistics
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Real Variables

In the realm of courses within the Economics major, game theory and the undergraduate econometrics sequence (ECON-E 471 and ECON-E 472) are strongly recommended.

High achieving and well-motivated Economics majors who are aiming for a highly-ranked economics Ph.D. program can, with special permission from the department, enroll in first-year graduate courses. Discuss this possibility with your academic advisor.

Information on how to fund graduate studies in economics is available through the American Economic Association.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Alumni connections

You may want to join the Department of Economics at Indiana University Bloomington LinkedIn group. Participating in this group allows you to connect with other current majors and alumni, see and appreciate the wide range of internships and careers obtained by economics majors, and identify the graduate programs through which alumni seek advanced degrees.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Economics attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in quantitative analysis
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Some aptitude in, and enjoyment of, mathematics
  • Fascination with economic theory especially as it is related to a broader social context
  • Curiosity about what influences people’s decisions
  • Appreciation for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding complex issues
  • Awareness of geopolitical issues in an increasingly globalized world
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination

Learn more

Contact an Economics academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

 

Department website
Advisor email address
econadvi@indiana.edu